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A2 Hosting Review 2019: Performance and Speed Tests


Despite having operated for nearly twenty years as of the publication date, A2 Hosting has been at the shadow of larger competitors like HostGator, GoDaddy, and newer services that have entered the fray, such as Amazon Web Services, which hosts roughly 8.9% of all websites in the world today. In light of all this, being small doesn’t mean that A2 Hosting’s services are not meaty enough to satisfy the needs of individuals, small businesses, and even medium-sized ones.

To review A2 Hosting’s services, we’ve made an effort to concentrate our attention on its most basic offerings to see what it makes available and how the host stands up to our most rigorous testing.

A2Hosting

A2Hosting

8.1

Verdict: A2 Hosting goes above and beyond other services in terms of their site loading speeds and reliability. It has a proven record going back many years, and it hasn’t failed to deliver when we tested it.

The Good

  • Lightning-fast loading speeds and great response times even from long distances, peering issues notwithstanding.
  • It’s rather easy to get help and staff are friendly and quick to respond to any issues.
  • The process of getting SSL working is rather easy.
  • If you’re planning on getting a well-known CMS up and running quickly, A2 Hosting has you covered with extremely quick setup time.
  • Free webmail!

The Bad

  • FTP transfer speeds, while not completely abysmal, leave a lot to be desired.
  • Renewal pricing nearly doubles as new customer discount no longer applies.
  • Other services offer more for their low-tier plans than A2 Hosting does.

What A2 Hosting Offers

As a company that has been operating for as long as it has, its offers are quite simple. You could choose between four types of plans: Shared, Reseller, Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Dedicated Hosting. A2 Hosting’s shared offer boasts 20x faster speed with “turbo” servers and optimization for CMS applications like WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

Customers opting out of the company’s hosting services are promised a refund for any unused portion of the plan. Common to all plans are features like unlimited space and bandwidth, site transfers, solid state drives, a commitment to 99.9% uptime, a choice between Linux and Windows hosting for relevant planes, and 24/7 support.

What We’re Reviewing

As we have done in other hosting reviews, we’ll be taking a look at the company’s shared hosting offer, which is by far the most common choice for people who want to take their first step at creating and hosting a website. Since A2 Hosting does not have multiple tiers to its shared offer, the choice is straightforward, and we opted for a one-month plan.

Pricing and Offerings

A2hosting Offer Overview

Although A2 Hosting’s $3.90 monthly shared hosting offer (with a “51% off” discount that has an unclear expiration date) appears right on your screen as soon as you enter the site, once you select the option to compare hosting packages, you’re greeted with tiered offers much like any other hosting service.

If you choose “Get Started,” you’re actually choosing the “Lite” tier. However, the next tier up – “Swift” – allows for unlimited websites as opposed to just one and unlimited databases as opposed to five, all for $4.90 monthly with a 51% discount ($9.99 monthly normally). The top tier plan (known as “Turbo”) costs $9.30 per month ($18.99 without the discount) and includes the “20x faster” speed we spoke about in the beginning.

A2hosting Offer Shared Hosting

We chose to explore the “Lite” tier since it appears to provide an ample amount of resources for someone starting with their first website or even migrating a decently-sized site from another provider.

In the ordering page we noticed there are a few extra options that will add to the hosting costs:

  • SSL certificates – $4
  • “Swift” web hosting ($3) or “Turbo” web hosting ($15)
  • Priority support – $19.99
  • A variety of offsite backup options ranging from $1.99 for 5 GB to $44.99 for 200 GB
  • A variety of proprietary website builder options
  • A spam firewall, 8.96 EUR for unlimited domains
  • EssentialSSL certificates – $71.95
  • Railgun – $2

We chose to have a Lite plan at the one-month price with a free automatic installation of WordPress, which totaled $4.90 for the bare-bones package. Upon making the order, we noticed that the 51% discount would no longer apply upon any renewal of the subscription.

Speed and Reliability

It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a reliable host that delivers content within an acceptable amount of time. Since most sites under a shared hosting provider are grouped under the umbrella of one server, a site with three visitors per day on the same server as one with 25,000 will take about the same time to load. We want to test how A2 Hosting handles putting our test site in a shared server by gathering loading times through different parts of the day.

To test this, we ran three separate ping tests and loading time tests spaced at least two hours apart.

Bitcatcha (ping)

Our first test was stellar.

A2hosting Pingtest1

We chose a server in the western United States as our host, and it reflected strongly in the results of this test, with a ping of only 12 milliseconds. While other areas of the world were lagging, it wasn’t enough to raise an eyebrow. Even someone in Bangalore could reach a site hosted by A2 with ease.

A second run during an afternoon coffee did not disappoint either.

A2hosting Pingtest2

A couple of the ping values were higher this time, but the site still performed exceptionally well.

A third test later in the evening showed that A2 Hosting doesn’t disappoint at all.

A2hosting Pingtest3

The values shown were consistently in the same range at different times of the day, a testament to the stability one could expect from this hosting provider.

But what about the amount of time it takes for a website to load from a visitor’s perspective?

Pingdom (load time)

Ping is just one part of the equation that makes up the full browsing experience on a site. The amount of time that it takes for a page to fully load often sends a message to your visitor. For our test, we loaded up a WordPress home page with several images, resulting in 3.3 MB of data that has to be transferred to the visitor. We also emulated distance by having Pingdom “visit” the site from London, UK, an area we noticed got high ping in prior testing. Our previous review of HostGator was similar, loading our test site from Stockholm, Sweden.

Our first test was pretty impressive.

A2hosting Loadtest1

Although our tests in other reviews had similar load times, it’s worth noting that we’re now loading our test site with almost triple the amount of data. Three megabytes in 2.5 seconds with the most basic plan is not bad at all, but does it fare well later in the day?

A2hosting Loadtest2

It seems like A2 Hosting doesn’t care about the time of day, as this afternoon result is even better than the test we took in the morning.

Let’s see how A2 Hosting handles the UK’s “Internet rush hour” at 7:30 PM.

A2hosting Loadtest3

It seems that A2 Hosting doesn’t care much about heavy congestion hours. Results are slightly worse at this hour than in the afternoon but better than in the morning. All in all, it takes roughly the same amount of time, with a margin of error of 370 milliseconds, to load the test site.

These numbers suggest that even without the “Turbo” option enabled in your package, you could expect a decent amount of loading speed that will keep your visitors engaged with your site and minimize frustrations.

It’s time now to see how frustrating things could be from an administrative point of view in a test we’ve run on our own trusty 1 Gbit upstream and downstream line.

Our Own Handcrafted Test (FTP Upload/Download)

While A2 Hosting’s load times have “convenience” written all over them, it just tells the story of how the visitor would feel on your site. However, we also need to look at how uploading data to the site may feel for administrators. For this reason, we’ve devised a test in which we will upload a chunky file totaling just under 1 GB through WinSCP and observe what kind of transfer speeds we get when uploading the file and downloading it back.

Our first upload was painful. The process of uploading 1 GB of data to the server was cumbersome at speeds averaging 1.02 MB per second. It’s still doable but not ideal for individuals or organizations hoping to move around more data. For some, waiting fifteen minutes to upload 1 GB of data might be a letdown.

Surprisingly enough, downloading the data back was even slower, with speeds dipping to an average of around 850 KB per second.

A second test later in the day saw our speeds in both downloads and uploads spike at around 3 MBps and sink quickly back down to the same levels we’d seen in our prior test. We have nothing else remarkable to report in our results in any of our later two tests.

Our Experience

A2hosting Experience

With A2 Hosting, setup was a breeze. It took only a few minutes to sign up, select a package, pay for it, and get a site up and running. Their name servers absorbed our DNS rather quickly, barring some issues we had with our own domain host for the test site. The process could be described as “painless,” as we were basically up and running in the span of a few minutes. However, we cannot emphasize enough how painfully slow it was to upload data to the server through our FTP client.

The ease of setup was offset by the sluggish speed at which we could upload the content that we wanted to use to test the host.

Despite all of this, A2 Hosting is probably the service with the snappiest loading times we have tested so far.

Is hosting a website through this service worth the money? If you can tolerate the sluggish back-and-forth from the backend and only really care about your visitors’ experience on your site, it’s worth every penny.

Pros

  • Lightning-fast loading speeds and great response times even from long distances, peering issues notwithstanding.
  • It’s rather easy to get help, and staff are friendly and quick to respond to any issues.
  • The process of getting SSL working is rather easy.
  • If you’re planning on getting a well-known CMS up and running quickly, A2 Hosting has you covered with extremely quick setup time.
  • Free webmail!

Cons

  • FTP transfer speeds, while not completely abysmal, leave a lot to be desired.
  • Renewal pricing nearly doubles as new customer discount no longer applies.
  • Other services offer more for their low-tier plans than A2 Hosting does.

Overall, aside from the pricing scheme and FTP transfer speeds, A2 Hosting goes above and beyond other services in terms of their site loading speeds and reliability. It has a proven record going back many years, and it hasn’t failed to deliver when we tested it. Our total score for A2 is:

8.1/10

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